posted: 06-04-04
interview : tadah
Let us start with you giving an introduction to the album "Death Is Certain."
In my opinion it's my best material to date. The last album lacked feel, but this album has that feel. It's a real personal album. It's a real honest album. It's not commercial, by no means. It's just real underground hip hop, from front to back. And it's kinda answering a lot of questions that people might have had. So it basically lets you know how Royce feels and exactly who Royce is.
I wrote a review on the album (read it here), and there were a couple of things that stuck out to me. One thing was that all the lyrics were very precisely pronounced.
That's just something that I do when I deliver my rhymes. I feel like pronunciation is everything. So that's just something that I kinda do naturally.
What kind of messages did you want to make sure, with your precise pronunciation, that people get from the album?
I want people to understand what I have been through and what I have been up to since they heard from me last. And I want people to hear and realize that it is real music and real talk.
To me there also seems to be a disillusioned if not frustrated undertone to the album. Would you agree with that?
Frustration? It depends on how you listen to it. I was just trying to bring across my passion. And also to somewhat bring across my anger. There definitely was anger there. I like to tell people: 'whatever you wanna take out of it, when you listen; whatever you wanna get out of it.' So it all depends on the mind frame or what's on your mind when you listen to the album.
So what are you angry about?
I was angry about a lot of things. Like my situation. Obviously things didn't go as well for me or didn't happen as quick for me as people might have thought it would. So anybody that gets into Royce knows exactly what I got to be frustrated and angry about.
But have you come to some sort of 'closure' with releasing this album?
It wasn't a situation where I needed closure, but I definitely feel that I got a lot off my chest. I always feel better after I vent off my frustration and got things off my chest.
You mentioned that some things didn't happen as fast as they could or should have happened. But in retrospect, do you think that in general, you had an overall good or bad career so far?
I think I have had a good career. I got a lot to be thankful about. The positive definitely outweighs the negative. I think anybody that decides to pursue a career such as myself's, they definitely are going through some negative. I talk about a lot of the negative aspects of my career, because that's one of the better ways that I express myself. I chose to write like that. I think that's why I get a lot out of my heart; expressing what I go through and how I deal with the negative. But the positive definitely outweighs the negative. So I'm not complaining on my career as a whole. But you know, whatever is on my mind, I'm going to talk about it. That's just how I write my rhymes.
I think the first time that I heard you was when I bought the 'Bad Meets Evil' 12". Was that a moment of glory in your career, or just one of many?
It is a tad bit different oversees than it is over here. That record was actually a lot bigger over there than over here.
I don't spend a lot of time living up to different expectations. And I try not to pay too much attention to what kind of attention each individual record is getting. Because I feel like every artists in the game is one hit away. I stick to that. So I live every day like it's my first record. There's always the potential for a bigger record, or a next record. So I try to not pick one against the other, because that all boils down to opinion anyway.
"Bad Meets Evil" was a little bit of a silly record, while "Death Is Certain" sounds definitely more grown up. Is this the sign of the times or is it just because you're all grown up now.
I definitely did a lot of maturing. My mind frame is always going to reflect in my music. Whatever my current mind frame is will show in my music. So it's definitely because of me maturing as a person.
Early in the interview you said that at times you have to 'vent'. A while ago you 'vented' on the internet against D-12 and Eminem. Do you have an update on that?
Since then it's been squashed. There's no problem between Royce and D-12. There never was a problem between Royce and Eminem. I think we all agree to disagree and move on.
On the song "Regardless" you quote parts of the song "Lose Yourself". Actually throughout the album there's quotes here and there. How come?
It's kinda like showing respect to the artist. Or I feel like that line might pertain to something I'm doing. Like the line from "Lose Yourself": I started that song - the album - out and put the listener in the mind frame of: that's how I feel. I feel like I'm that emcee, depicted in that movie. I feel like this is one of my last shots. This is my time to seize the opportunity and let people know that I'm an emcee on my own.
You mention "8 Mile", and I asked someone else from Detroit the same question before: how much of Detroit is in the movie "8 Mile"?
Detroit is so big. It's a fair depiction of a small portion of Detroit. I couldn't say how much and get you to understand exactly how I see it in my mind. But it's definitely a fair depiction of the aspect of Detroit that he was trying to give you; from the hip hop stand point and the hip hop community.
You're on the Koch label, which is distributed by Universal. Another label distributed by Universal is Motown. Motown and Detroit obviously share history. So would Motown be the perfect label for you to be on?
Honestly man, it'd be perfect for me anywhere where somebody is giving us some money. That's our new thing: we got a mentality now called 'cut the check.' We don't even put the ball in Koch's court, as far as promoting the album and things that you do after recording the album. We've been doing a lot by ourselves. Koch has been doing a lot. They have a lot of resources; we've just been working hand in hand. I think what we know and what we've learned so far, I think we can establish that kind of relationship with any label. So it doesn't matter, as long as you cut the check.
And now considering the shared history of Motown and Detroit, would that give you an extra boost if you were to release your music on Motown?
I think it would definitely give me a boost. I don't know about an extra boost from any other label. Motown would be good, Universal would be good, Sony would be good, anybody would be good. Anybody that is cutting the check. That is our boost. That check is the extra boost for us.
Lately, there have been several artists talking about white artists and white fans. As you have a white artist as a friend, even came up with a white emcee, do you have anything to say about this tension?
I don't see why there would be tension. I started with Eminem. He looked out for me. Whatever, if he's white or Black, that's just something I appreciate. I don't even understand why there would be tension. This genre of music has given to everybody; it has given to whites, Blacks and anybody who wanted to listen to it.
I assume that what we have on the album was recorded a little while ago. Where have you been moving since then?
I'm moving forward. That's what Royce has always been about. I'm moving forward and stepping away from the negativity. I'm slowly trying to disassociate my name with anything that's negative and get on a more positive road. I am trying to do a lot more positive records and to put out a lot of messages with my music in the future. And I'ma try to do bigger records, but still keep my underground heads. I'ma see where it goes.
I find this interesting. Also in connection with the song "Death Is Certain Part 2 - It Hurts", which surprised me how deep it went. At the same time I was somewhat disappointed with other moments where you're threatening the same violence that gives you grief and reason to mourn on that song. So your plan is to go more into the direction of "It Hurts" then?
I mean, "It Hurts" can fit in any album. What people need to realize, and that is why I called the album "Death Is Certain": death is just one of the harsh realities of life. Life is a contradiction. You can do so much, and you can be as positive as you want, but you can walk outside your house and get hit by a car. You can get killed outside of your church, after you just came out, having finished praying. You can be the best person in the world.
For you to listen to an album that's talking about killing people and then on the next song I'm mourning about the same thing happening to me, it gives to the title: what goes around, comes around. It all fits.
You did release the "Build And Destroy" mixtape. With your album out, you could work on another mixtape. Is one planned, or anything else?
I always got enough material to put out another mixtape. I can do that at any point. Really right now, what I am focusing on, is a direction where I can take my next album. I really try to get myself into the mind frame of my next album. And I'm trying to get the M.I.C. - which is my new label and stands for 'Make It Count' - off the ground. I work with my crew D-Elite. And whatever comes in that process, I might drop a mixtape. We take a day at a time, even though we try to think six months to a year in ahead, we still take it a day at a time. But sometimes, when we know that a goal takes three months, within that three months we might drop a mixtape, just so to stay busy. We just keep it moving.
You are on the Koch label. Koch started out as a folklore label in Germany, putting records out with people yodeling and polka music and such. Now, you could argue that rap music is the Black man's folklore music.
I don't know if the next projects are going to be on Koch. They put this album out. I'm actually not signed to Koch as an artist. So it's still up in the airs, what direction I'ma take my next album label wise.
But I don't know about folklore. I don't think so. Rap is just the Black people's rap; kinda the Black people's way of life; the young Black people's culture. When you say folklore, that kinda reminds me of the older generation - like older people's music. And rap is for the young.
Will it always be for the young?
I think so. I think even for my generation, there will be an older rap and a younger rap. When I get older, I will probably not be able to understand what the younger people are listening to. And I will probably still listen to what is going on today - if I'm listening to it at all. I will probably get to a point where I don't want to hear nothing about violence, and nothing like that. And will probably wanna lay back and listen to some Easy Listening.
I think that's actually going to be interesting to see, if rap can make the transition from 'forever youth culture' to a culture which the older generation can be part of, as much as the younger generation. Like rock music was able to do.
Yeah, it's just going to take time. Rap has only been around a certain amount of years. It's definitely going to live and survive with us and definitely not going nowhere. And just like we are growing, just like we are getting older, it is getting older. Once I will hit forty-five years, rap will still be here. And I will always have my memories of what I've done with it.
Will you always be rapping?
Nah. I'ma rap as long as I feel like I can do it. I give myself up to maybe my mid thirties. And after that I will be ready to hang it up and take the executive role. So no more than ten years. If I go any longer than that, I lost a bet with myself.
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